These days, if a former NFL coach makes a vague statement about an openly gay sports player who was fawned over by the media, he can expect to be called a “homophobe” and “bigot” for not getting aboard the pro-gay train.
Dungy, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and current NBC sports analyst, told The Tampa Tribune, “I wouldn’t have taken him [Michael Sam]. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
Dungy elaborated, "It’s not going to be totally smooth...things will happen.” For this cautious statement, Dungy was attacked by the media as homophobic and discriminatory.
Dungy is a Christian with a Bible verse in his Twitter bio and in his background so he makes an easy target. In 2007, he verbally supported efforts to amend the Indiana constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. At the time he explained, "We're not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we're trying to promote the family -- family values the Lord's way.”
In the same way that he stated “Michael Sam should have a chance to play,” Dungy has tried to make clear that he is not anti-gay.
Regardless some in the media have decided Dungy’s personal beliefs are now somehow a matter of public bashing, because they are not politically correct.
USA Today accused Dungy of being fake, calling his comments “a calculated act.” “Of course Dungy’s comments come as no surprise,” the blog said, “and are not rooted in logic but ideology instead. He’s raised money for anti-gay causes before, and said he doesn’t agree with openly gay NBA player Jason Collins’ “lifestyle.”
USA Today’s sports blog writer Chris Chase also insinuated that Dungy was using his beliefs to discriminate, saying, “Given Dungy’s 2007 support of an Indiana group hoping to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, some took the quotes as a repudiation of Sam’s sexuality.’ Chase used the analogy of “sharpening a pitchfork” to describe Dungy’s “attack” on Sam.
Chase was disappointed because Dungy is black and so somehow his race is important in this matter as well. Chase complained it wasn’t in the “pioneering spirit you might want from the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl.”
That was echoed by Yahoo! Sports Writer Dan Wetzel, who seems to think Dungy should be running some sort of affirmative action program. Dungy, Wetzel argued, should be “empowering African-Americans with the opportunities they deserve.” He condemned Dungy’s “stunning lack of courage” as “pathetic,” and wrote, “For an NFL executive to not draft an openly gay player because someone in his locker room or fan base or anywhere might – might – not handle it so well is some kind of Jim Crow-era awful.”
Wetzel condescended to say that if Dungy “were to say that he wouldn't have drafted Michael Sam because the Bible that Dungy believes in condemns Sam's lifestyle that would be … well, that would be ridiculous, hypocritical and wrong also, but at least it would seemingly jibe with Dungy's sometimes expressed beliefs. Sometimes being the operative word.”
The condescension and disdain for traditional Christianity was on display at CBS Sports as well, as NFL writer Will Brinson sneered,
“Dungy is allowed to have whatever stance he wants on sexuality. Religion, freedoms, belief systems, yada yada. But this is a disappointing stance from the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl who dealt with racially-based backlash for he and his family at times. Dungy literally wrote (the foreward of) the book pushing for "Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL.”
That has nothing at all to do with what Dungy said, but it doesn’t matter.
At least Brinson refrained from calling Dungy an “insufferable shit” who put his “religion-endorsed homophobia on display.” That well-reasoned argument came from Sports blog Deadspin.